Deja vu? Opposing groups expected in Portland again

Protests

Police say they will take a hands-off approach

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Opposing groups plan to gather in downtown Portland on Sunday, one year after a similar event devolved into violence.

The Portland Police Bureau believes the groups plan to gather at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Past events have been attended by people with weapons, including guns.

Opposing groups clashed in the same area earlier this month but Portland is no stranger to the behavior. On Aug. 22, 2020, federal officers declared an unlawful assembly at Terry Schrunk Plaza following hours of dueling demonstrations between right-wing and left-wing protesters in the downtown area. One protester filmed a woman being punched allegedly by a member of the Proud Boys.

One person was shot and killed a week later near clashes between supporters of former President Donald Trump and counterprotesters during a “Trump 2020 Cruise Rally” in downtown Portland.

In response to public concern over the events planned to take place Sunday, Mayor Ted Wheeler and PPB Chief Chuck Lovell held a press conference Friday to discuss community safety. They announced that police will be taking a hands-off approach to Sunday’s potential unrest.

“People should choose to act peacefully even with those they disagree with,” said Lovell. “People can and should keep themselves apart and choose to avoid physical confrontations. My message today is simple: if you’re considering coming downtown to fight, threaten people, or participate in violence — stay away.”

The PPB said it will call in additional officers, even if it’s their day off, but the bureau declined to provide any additional tactical planning details. They are urging building owners in the downtown district to secure their dumpsters and A-frame signs to prevent thefts or dumpster fires. These items should be locked indoors, if possible.

Nikko Whitlock with Paddy’s Bar & Grill said they are no strangers to protest activity in the area and, if anything, they see more business during nights of unrest because more people come into the downtown area.

“We kind of see it all the time, Paddy’s is just a few blocks away from the Justice Center and from the waterfront so we kind of get the full front of everything but we’re really not that scared of it, we’re not afraid, our business isn’t really affected too much by it,” he said.

Police are asking community members to call and report any and all criminal activity when they see it.

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